MY SPECCY +3 LIVES AGAIN!
I've recently been working on some new Speccy games, so decided to dust off my +3. As with most +3s, after 30 years the disk drive belt had rotted away. Fortunately Retro Revival Shop sells new ones, and it was quite simple to fit, following a YouTube tutorial.
The most important bit was to be sure to clean out the old sticky bits of rubber.
The other most important bit was not to lose the write-protect pin inside the disk drive. I dropped it, but managed to get it back in. Phew.
Very quickly I had a working +3, and could play all my old demo disks.
It actually took me AGES to find out how to tune a channel in on my old Matsui TV. The solution was to press and hold the remote control's menu button, then release and tap it again. The Speccy test signal (hold break while tapping reset) was invaluable.
Unfortunately my tape leads had also suffered a bit over the last 30 years. I bought some new ones (from Retro Revival Shop again) but my poor +3 was still struggling.
It turned out that the audio socket was a bit loose. I could have ordered one online, but I was too eager to test my new tapes. So I soldered some wires to the Ground and Ear pins of the socket, and ran the cable out through a convenient air vent in the base of the Speccy.
For reference, the Ear cable is the one the Speccy uses to listen with.
I plugged the other end into my old Walkman, but still couldn't load tapes, even with a mono-to-stereo adapter. My walkman was knackered.
I also tried plugging the cable into my Android phone, and tried using the PlayZX app. I could hear the tape-loading sound from the TV, but nothing would load.
I uploaded a TAP file of the game I was working on, BioHell, to PlayZX... just in case...
Plan B. Using some phono leads I connected my phone to the AUX input of my old Technics hi-fi, and plugged the Speccy Ear cable into the hi-fi's headphone socket.
Again I could hear it on the TV but it STILL wasn't loud enough!
If there's one thing I've learned, it's to ALWAYS check the volume. When I plug a cable into my phone's headphone socket, it automatically lowers the volume to protect your ears. So I turned the volume back up again. When I pressed play in PlayZX it switched from headphone volume to 'media' volume. So I turned the volume back up again.
And it LOADED!
My final task was to make a personal disk version of Ninja Carnage.
It's a double-sided tape game, and uses all the available memory on the 128k. So the tape version takes AGES to load.
I wrote a program on the Speccy to load each tape file and save it to disk. But it turns out that some of the banks on the +3 are used and/or corrupted when you load from disk, so that created a whole new set of problems. I eventually fixed it but it was really awkward.
But that's another story... :-)